Stanford Aims For Three More Wins At Billiken Invitational

Sept. 4, 2008

UP NEXT: The Stanford women's volleyball team plays the final leg of its season-opening road trip in St. Louis, Mo. this weekend, taking on William & Mary, No. 19 Illinois and Saint Louis as part of the Billiken Invitational in St. Louis. The Cardinal meets the Tribe on Friday evening in the first athletic competition in the new Chaifetz Arena, then plays two matches on Saturday before returning to the Stanford campus.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Cardinal returns home to host the Stanford Invitational next weekend, hosting New Mexico State, UC Santa Barbara and Santa Clara in the three-day event. The Cardinal's 2008 home-opener will take place Thursday night at 7 p.m. against NMSU. The tournament continues through Saturday, Sept. 13. For tickets, call 1-800-STANFORD or purchase online at www.GoStanford.com.

CATCH THE CARDINAL: The three Cardinal matches in St. Louis will not be covered by KZSU radio. Live stats for all three matches will be available via Gametracker at www.GoStanford.com. Live pay-per-view video of all matches can be seen on Billiken All-Access at www.slubillikens.com.

PUTTING ON A SHOW: Floridian middle blockers Janet Okogbaa and Foluke Akinradewo led the Cardinal to a dominating win in their home state on Tuesday. Both playing for the first time back in Florida, Stanford's starting middle blockers hit a combined .520 and together rattled off 15 kills and put up eight blocks. Stanford defeated Central Florida in the midweek contest, 25-13, 27-17, 25-14.

ST. LOUIS HOMECOMING: Stanford senior Erin Waller will be playing in front of her hometown crowd this weekend, as the opposite hitter hails from Ballwin, Mo. just west of St. Louis. In her days at Incarnate Word Academy, Waller helped the Red Knights to two Missouri state titles, and was named the 2004 Missouri Gatorade State Player of the Year. When Stanford meets Saint Louis on Saturday, Waller will play against former Incarnate Word teammate Whitney Behrens and former coach Lisa Orlet, who is in her first season as a member of the Billiken volleyball coaching staff.

SWINGING FOR THE RECORD: Entering her senior season, Foluke Akinradewo has already rewritten the hitting percentage column in the NCAA, Pac-10 and Stanford record books. Last year, she posted the second highest hitting percentage in NCAA history (.499) and shattered both the Pac-10 and Stanford single-season records by more than 50 points. After the first three matches of her final collegiate season, Akinradewo is hitting .438 and on pace to finish with the best career hitting percentage ever recorded by an NCAA Division I player.

COUNTING DOWN TO 650: Head Coach John Dunning could earn his 650th career win this weekend if the Cardinal sweeps the Billiken Invitaitonal. Dunning, who has won more NCAA championships than any coach in the game, is among the top-five active coaches in terms of winning percentage, and currently stands 10th among active coaches in terms of career victories. He will be the 17th coach in NCAA history to hit the 650-win mark.

CATCHING ON QUICKLY: Sophomore Cassidy Lichtman has wasted no time transitioning into her new setter/hitter role. Last weekend at the Runza/AVCA Showcase, Lichtman recorded two double-doubles, and set new personal bests for kills (10), assists (31), blocks (2) and hitting percentage (.533). In the opener against Nebraska, Lichtman had 11 assists and 10 digs, then came a dig short of a triple-double with 10 kills, 31 assists and nine digs against Texas. Along with teammate Cynthia Barboza, the sophomore was named to the eight-player Runza/AVCA Showcase All-Tournament Team.

QUEEN OF THE COURT: Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo begins her senior season as the reigning AVCA National Player of the Year. Akinradewo tallied 4.11 kpg last season, while leading the nation with a .499 hitting percentage. She is the eighth AVCA National Player of the Year from Stanford, and the fourth that Head Coach John Dunning has produced since coming to The Farm seven seasons ago.

ALL-AMERICAN FIREPOWER: Stanford returns an arsenal of All-American hitters for 2008 - Foluke Akinradewo, Cynthia Barboza and Alix Klineman. Together, the trio boasts six career All-America honors, including four first-team selections, along with a National Player of the Year award and a National Freshman of the Year award. The threesome brings back a combined 12.22 kills per game while hitting at a clip well above .300. All told, the trio's accomplishments amount to more returning firepower than the Cardinal program has ever seen.

RECORDS CHASE: Senior Foluke Akinradewo continues to climb Stanford's career block chart, and is close to joining the school's kill leaders as well. The middle blocker is currently eighth on the block list with 416, nine short of catching Barbara Ifejika for seventh place. She needs 27 more kills to make the top-10 list in that category, a feat she could accomplish this weekend.

OFFSEASON OF CHAMPIONS: Stanford's three returning All-Americans all spent the offseason training with the U.S. Women's National Team in Colorado Springs. Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo competed in the FIVB World Grand Prix and were both alternates for the 2008 Olympic Team. Akinradewo and Barboza were the only two players with collegiate eligibiliy remaining named to the 19-player Olympic preliminary roster. Alix Klineman, the youngest player in Colorado Springs at just age 18, trained with the team from January to June, toured China with the squad in March and, along with Barboza, competed in the Pan Am Cup in June.

VETERANS ALL AROUND: The Cardinal boasts 11 players who have been to a national championship match, including seven who have taken the team to the coveted match twice. Six members of the starting rotation return from last year, including all four primary passers. Between the 11 veterans, the 2008 Cardinal boasts 12 years in the starting lineup and more than 3,500 kills. Entering 2008, the veterans had already contributed to 88 Cardinal wins, two conference titles and a pair of Final Four appearances. Ten members of the Stanford roster have postseason court experience.

NATIONAL POLL: Stanford came in at No. 3 this week in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The Cardinal began last season at No. 2 in the poll, but dropped a spot after losing the season opener to Nebraska. Defending national champion Penn State and Nebraska took the top two spots in the poll, while Texas and California rounded out the top-five. Five Pac-10 squads remain in the top-10.

PICKED TO THREE-PEAT: The Stanford women's volleyball team was unanimously chosen by the league's coaches to win the Pac-10 volleyball title for the third consecutive season. Stanford claimed the maximum 90 points in the preseason poll, 15 more than second-place UCLA, including the first-place votes of each of the league's nine opponent head coaches. Once again, the Pac-10 sent three teams to the Final Four in 2007 (Stanford, USC and California). It marked the third time in four seasons that the Pac-10 made up three-fourths of the Final Four field. The conference has taken home five of the last seven NCAA titles. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 12 of the previous 19 polls.

2007 IN REVIEW: In 2007, Stanford posted a 32-3 record and won an unprecedented 11th Pac-10 title. The team finished the year with a postseason run to its 13th NCAA title match, where it fell to Penn State in a five-set thriller. On the year, Stanford bested 18 ranked opponents, outhit 33 of the 35 teams it faced and won 21 matches by 3-0 margins. Four players - Foluke Akinradewo, Alix Klineman, Bryn Kehoe and Cynthia Barboza - were named All-Americans, matching the highest total in program history, and, for the eighth time, Stanford produced the AVCA National Player of the Year.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, Head Coach John Dunning has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Stanford will play 14 regular-season matches against teams that were ranked in the preseason poll, and 15 against teams that made the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Half of the teams that made the preseason top-10 hail from the Pac-10 Conference.

HEAD COACH John Dunning: Beginning his eighth season at the helm of the Cardinal, Head Coach John Dunning is one of the most accomplished coaches in the collegiate volleyball world. Dunning has four national championships under his belt, has taken his teams to eight Final Fours and carried five of his seven teams at Stanford to the national championship match. In 23 plus years as a head coach, Dunning is 647-136 (.826), giving him a winning percentage that ranks among the top five all-time Division I coaches. Dunning is 210-34 (.861) on The Farm.

SCOUTING WILLIAM & MARY: The Tribe is coming off of a 14-15 2007 campaign and a fourth place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association. The team returns its entire starting lineup, including senior All-CAA setter Kim Mount and sophomore outside hitter Erin Skipper, who led the team with 3.36 kpg last season. The Tribe went 3-0 in its opening weekend, and was paced by Skipper's 4.45 kps.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini were 16-14 last year, and finished eighth in the Big 10. With six starters returning, however, Illinois has made a splash to start the season. The team went 3-0 at its own tournament, and stunned two ranked opponents in one day last Saturday, with a four-set upset of No. 23 New Mexico State and a five-set upset of No. 11 Oregon. Leading the way for the now-No. 19 Illini has been sophomore outside hitter Laura DeBruler, a 2007 Big 10 All-Freshman pick who put up a whopping 5.42 kps in the opening weekend.

SCOUTING SAINT LOUIS: The Billikens were 23-7 last season, finished third in the Atlantic 10 and just missed earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament field. Six of seven starters return, and after a pristine opening weekend, the team is receiving votes in the AVCA poll for the first time in school history. Led by junior Whitney Roth, the 2007 Atlantic 10 Setter of the Year, and first-team All-A-10 outside hitter Sammi McCloud, the Billikens are on a roll in 2008. McCloud led the team with 3.30 kps during opening weekend.

STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: Stanford will be facing two unfamiliar opponents in William & Mary and Saint Louis, meeting both for the first time in school history. As a matter of fact, the Cardinal has never before played a team for the Colonial Athletic Association, and has only once before played a team from the Atlantic 10 (Stanford defeated Rhode Island in the 1991 NCAA Tournament). The Cardinal is 3-0 all-time against the Illini, but the squads have not seen each other since the 1992 NCAA Regional Final. Stanford won that match, 3-1, and went on to capture its first NCAA title.

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